A Practical Approach to Risk-Benefit Estimation in Pediatric Drug Research

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One of the most difficult challenges in pediatric drug research is in exposing children to risk, often without a balanced chance of benefits. While the concept of risk is similar in adult research, the adult patient can decide for himself/herself on an acceptable level of risk, whereas children have to accept the decisions of their guardians. This paper attempts to put the complexities of estimating risk in pediatric drug research into their practical perspective, and to familiarize the reader with the way such processes are conducted in different parts of the world. Although there are regional differences, all authorities typically quantify risks of pediatric research in general, and drug research in particular, in three levels: those experienced in day-to-day life; risks slightly above this ‘baseline’ risk; and risks substantially above ‘baseline risk’. Proportionally, the diligence of the ethics process depends on these levels, as well as on the potential benefits (or lack of) to the child involved in the research. Importantly, risk is context dependent, and a particular intervention may be effective or safe in one setting but not in another, based on local experience, staffing levels, and similar variabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-16
Number of pages4
JournalPaediatric Drugs
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


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